Literature Review Identifies Recommendations for Structuring Patient Handoffs

July 11, 2012 | Risk Management News

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More innovative research is needed to define optimal patient handoffs and to determine the effect of handoff quality on patient outcomes, concludes a study published in the July 2012 issue of Anesthesia and Analgesia. The authors systematically reviewed the literature on patient handoffs from the operating room (OR) to postanesthesia or intensive care units and summarized process and communication recommendations based on the findings. From a review of more than 500 articles, the study’s researchers identified 31 dealing with postoperative handoffs. Of the 24 that included recommendations for structuring the handoff process or information transfer, several recommendations were broadly supported, including using standardized processes (e.g., through the use of checklists and protocols), completing urgent clinical tasks before the information transfer, allowing only patient-specific discussions during verbal handoffs, requiring that all relevant team members be present during the handoff, and providing training in team skills and communication.

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